US renewable energy generation exceeds nuclear

Here’s another story you won’t hear about in the news. The U.S. Energy Information Administration Monthly Energy Review for June 2011 shows that for the first time, domestic renewable energy (.pdf) production surpassed nuclear (.pdf) in the first three months of this year.

To make the head to head comparison requires converting nuclear generation in kilowatt-hours (KWH) to British Thermal Units (BTU). EIA uses a conversion factor of 10460 BTU per KWH, so nuclear generation of 203,194 million KWH equates to 2.125 quadrillion BTU (2.125 x 1015). Renewable energy (hydroelectric, geothermal, solar thermal, solar PV, wind, ethanol, biodiesel, and biomass) was 2.245 quadrillion BTU.

Renewable energy increased by 15 percent year-over-year, while nuclear generation has been fairly constant at 8.4 quadrillion KWH/year. The pace of additional renewable capacity should get another boost when utility-scale solar PV projects start coming online later this year, driven by a reduction of almost 60 percent in the cost per KW generated of solar PV panels. And as the market for solar energy heats up, (pardon the pun), a US company will continue to enjoy a major competive edge over its Chinese competitors, according to Standard & Poor’s Credit Analyst Swami Venkataraman:

First Solar Inc. (FSLR), based in Tempe, Arizona, is likely to remain the market leader because its cadmium telluride generators cost at least 30 percent less to produce than the polysilicon panels made in China, Venkataraman said. “Even if poly prices were to fall significantly below the current spot price of about $50 per kilogram ($22.70 a pound), First Solar would still have a significant edge over the lowest- cost Chinese players,” he said.

(h/t to Ars Technica)

(edited 7/14/11 to fix broken link to Bloomberg article)

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1 comment so far

  1. […] renewables only supply a small part of America’s energy, I say: take another look. The times, they are a-changing. Eco World Content From Across The Internet. Featured on EcoPressed 18 Ideas for Reducing […]


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